An excellent album by one of the titans of Scandinavian black metal, At The Heart Of Winter features what I consider to be Immortal’s most solid line-up – Abbath on guitars (and pretty much everything else), and Horgh on drums. Horgh manages to maintain the tempos throughout, leaving Abbath free to concentrate on unleashing devastating blasts of distorted power. The production is also markedly improved over their previous efforts, and while those who consider themselves “tr00 kvlt” will no doubt bash this album for not having a “pure black metal sound”, I think it fits the album very well. Why? Because Immortal had started to infuse their sound with elements of German thrash metal, and the enhanced production allows their updated guitar style to be heard in all its glory. Listen to the phenomenal riffage on “Solarfall” and “Where Dark And Light Don’t Differ” for proof. On a more general note, the trademark Abbath “reptilian warlord from hell” croaked vocals are in fine form, and as usual, Immortal manages to inject beautiful melody and ambience amidst the carnage of whirlwind guitars and drums – check out the outro riff to “Withstand The Fall Of Time”, “Solarfall” and “At The Heart Of Winter”.
I consider this one of my three favorite Immortal albums, along with “Battles In The North” and “Sons Of Northern Darkness”. It’s well worth checking out.